Washtenaw County was created on 20 Nov 1822 (Organizrd in 1826) and was formed from Wayne and Oakland Counties. The County was named for Native American people called the area west of Detroit, "Wash-ten-ong," meaning "further district" or "land beyond." Another explanation is that it was a name for the Grand River and referred to the areas along and near the river.. The County Seat is Ann Arbor .
Counties adjacent to Washtenaw County are Livingston County (north), Oakland County (northeast), Ingham County (northwest), Wayne County (east), Jackson County (west), Monroe County (southeast), Lenawee County (southwest). Townships found in Washtenaw County include Ann Arbor Charter, Augusta, Bridgewater, Dexter, Freedom, Lima, Lodi, Lyndon, Manchester, Northfield, Pittsfield Charter, Salem, Saline, Scio, Sharon, Superior, Sylvan, Webster, York Charter, Ypsilanti Charter Townships. Cities, Towns and Communities include Ann Arbor, Barton Hills Village, Bridgewater, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Salem, Saline, Whitmore Lake, Whittaker, Willis, Ypsilanti.
Researchers often overlook the importance of court records, probate records, and land records as a source of family history information.
All departments below at located at the Washtenaw County Courthouse, 101 East Huron Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48107 , unless a different address is listed below. NOTE: The date listed for each category of record is the earliest record known to exist in that county. It does not indicate that there are numerous records for that year and certainly does not indicate that all such events that year were actually registered.
Washtenaw County Clerk has the following Records for: Births & Deaths: 1867 to present (Death Indexes from 1970 to present searched only by staff with written request), Marriages: 1833 to present (Indexes from 1970 to present searched only by staff with written request), Divorce: 1838 to present. (Records with Court Services Division at same address), Naturalization: Available at State Archives, Michigan Historical Center. Internet Access: A death or marriage record may be searched on our webite at the County Clerk's Office. The death record index is from 1960 to present. The marriage record index is from 1965 to present. Customers may also place order for death and marriage records using a credit card at the reference website. Birth record requests from eligible persons may also be requested at the same website. . The Office is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734) 222-6700 .
The County Clerk is responsible for keeping records of births, deaths, assumed names, co-partnerships, issuing and filing marriage licenses, gun permits, notary bonds and processing passports.
Washtenaw County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734)994-2515 .
The Register is the County's official recording officer for all legal documents pertaining to the transfers and encumbrances of all real estate property within the County. The Register also provides permanent storage for approved original subdivision plats, condominiums, land surveys and section corners.
Washtenaw County Clerk of the Probate Court has Probate Records from 1827 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734)994-2474 .
The Court Adjudicates and disposes of cases involving property of persons who have died or become incompetent, interprets wills and trusts, commits the mentally ill when necessary and appoints guardians and conservators for minors, incapacitated individuals and individuals with developmental disability.
Washtenaw County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Court Records from 1835 and is located at the County Courthouse, see address above for contact information. Phone: (734)994-2550 .
The Clerk provides a variety of functions for the court such as, but not limited to: filing and maintaing the official record for all cases that come before the court; providing staff to assist in the operation of the court; working with the Jury Commission and notifying all potential jurors to appear for jury duty; and, processing felony criminal cases bound over from the District Court.
County Treasurer - Property tax records at the county level usually date back to the first land records. Either the county treasurer or the register of deeds will be the custodian of these records.
Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Court Records by clicking the link below:
Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. They are prime sources for genealogical information.
The State of Michigan Vital Records Office is located at 201 Townsend Street, Capitol View Bldg, 3rd Floor, Lansing MI 48913 (across the street from the state capitol - south side). The office hours are 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Mon-Fri, except for State holidays. They are open thru the lunch hour. If applying in person, you must submit your request by 3:00 pm in order to obtain same-day service. It can take up to 1-3 months to get a vital record from Michigan.
Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Vital Records by clicking the link below:
Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do government census records. Substitute records can be used when the official census is unavailable
Countywide Records: Federal Population Schedules that exist for Washtenaw County, Michigan are 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment, see below), 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930.
Other Federal Schedules to look at when researching your Family Tree in Washtenaw County, Michigan are Industry and Agriculture Schedules availible for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. The Mortality Schedules for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. There are free downloadable and printable Census forms to help with your research. These include U.S. Census Extraction Forms and U.K. Census Extraction Forms.
Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Census Records by clicking the link below:
Genealogy Atlas has images of old American atlases during the years 1795, 1814, 1822, 1823, 1836, 1838, 1845, 1856, 1866, 1879 and 1897 for Michigan and other states.
You can view rotating animated maps for Michigan showing all the county boundaries for each census year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries. You can view a list of maps for other states at Census Maps
You can view rotating animated maps for Michigan showing all the county boundary changes for each year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries. You can view a list of maps for other states at County Maps
Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Maps. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Maps by clicking the link below:
Military and civil service records provide unique facts and insights into the lives of men and women who have served their country at home and abroad.
The uses and value of military records in genealogical research for ancestors who were veterans are obvious, but military records can also be important to re-searchers whose direct ancestors were not soldiers in any war. The fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and other close relatives of an ancestor may have served in a war, and their service or pension records could contain information that will assist in further identifying the family of primary interest. Due to the amount of genealogical information contained in some military pension files, they should never be overlooked during the research process. Those records not containing specific genealogical information are of historic value and should be included in any overall research design.
Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Military Records by clicking the link below:
The Repositories in this section are Archives, Libraries, Museums, Genealogical and Historical Societies. Many County Historical and Genealogical Societies publish magazines and/or news letters on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis. Contacting the local societies should not be over looked. State Archives and Societies are usually much larger and better organized with much larger archived materials than their smaller county cousins but they can be more generalized and over look the smaller details that local societies tend to have. Libraries can also be a good place to look for local information. Some libraries have a genealogy section and may have some resources that are not located at archives or societies. Also, take a special look at any museums in the area. They sometimes have photos and items from years gone by as well as information of a genealogical interest. All these places are vitally important to the family genealogist and must not be passed over.
Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Genealogical Addresses by clicking the link below:
Obituaries can vary in the amount of information they contain, but many of them are genealogical goldmines, including information such as names, dates, places of birth and death, marriage information, and family relationships.
There are many churches and cemeteries in Washtenaw County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Washtenaw County Tombstone Transcription Project.
The earliest religious denomination in Michigan was the Roman Catholic church, established through a mission in 1668 at Sault Ste. Marie. Ste. Anne's, in Detroit, has parish records beginning in 1703.
Michigan Historical Collections in Ann Arbor holds large collections from the Presbyterian Church and the Protestant Episcopal Church, in addition to other denominations. Dutch Reformed church records are at Calvin College and Seminary Library in Grand Rapids; Finnish church records are deposited at the Finnish-American Historical Archives at Suomi College in Hancock. The Upjohn Library at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo has a large collection of Baptist archive material. Many early Detroit churches have their records deposited at the Burton Historical Collection-Detroit Public Library. The Michigan Historical Records Survey, WPA, completed an Inventory of the Church Archives of Michigan, and many of the church records from this inventory were published from 1936 through 1942.
The Library of Michigan in Lansing and the Burton Historical Collection have over 1,000 books of transcribed or published tombstone readings from Michigan cemeteries. To locate a cemetery in the state, consult the Michigan Cemetery Compendium. It lists most cemeteries in Michigan.
Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Cemetery & Church Records by clicking the link below:
The use of published genealogies, electronic files containing genealogical lineage, and other compiled sources can be of tremendous value to a researcher.
When view family trees online or not, be sure to only take the info at face value and always follow up with your own sources or verify the ones they provide. Below is a list of online resources for Washtenaw County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information. Email us with websites containing Washtenaw County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:
According to Chapman's History of Washtenaw County (1881), the legislative Council of Michigan Territory defined the boundaries of Washtenaw County in 1822. Washtenaw is a variant of Wash-ten-ong, a Chippewa name for Grand River. The Huron River valley was originally home to a large Native American population. In 1680, the French explorer LaSalle passed eastward through this region canoeing from Portage Lake down the Huron to Lake Erie. French fur traders and Jesuit missionaries soon followed.
Four years after Michigan became a territory in 1805, Godfrey, Pepin and LaShambre established a trading post known as "Godfrey's, on the Pottawatomie Trail" in what is now Ypsilanti. Many pioneers saw economic opportunity by harnessing river power for sawmills and gristmills. Major Benjamin Woodruff, who purchased 160 acres of land in 1823 in Ypsilanti Township, is commonly acknowledged to be Washtenaw's first settler. A year later John Allen collaborated with Elisha Rumsey to plat the town of Annarbour, named for Allen's wife, Ann, and for the burr oak openings.
The University of Michigan, founded in Detroit in 1817, moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. In Ypsilanti, Michigan State Normal School now Eastern Michigan University (founded in 1849) is the oldest teachers' institution west of the Allegheny Mountains.
Early area transportation networks developed from the rivers and Native American trails. In 1827 the Chicago Military Road was built along the Great Sauk Trail (Michigan Avenue). Two years later, the Territorial Road to St. Joseph (now US-12) was built along the same route. The completion of the Michigan Central Railroad's Detroit-Ann Arbor connection in 1839 symbolized the beginning of a new era of immigration, economic accessibility and growth for Washtenaw County.
Washtenaw County is located in southeast Michigan, covering an area of 720 square miles. Its 27 cities, villages and townships are home to about 325,000 citizens in urban, suburban, and rural settings. This mix of different settings provides many opportunities for education, recreation, business, agricultural, and home life. The two largest cities are Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, homes to two large universities - the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.
History of Washtenaw County Government
Washtenaw County is situated in southeastern Michigan approximately 30 miles west of Detroit: Ann Arbor is the County Seat. Five cities: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Chelsea and Milan; and three incorporated villages: Manchester, Dexter and Barton Hills are located within the County. The County spans a distance of 30 miles east-west and extends 24 miles in the north-south direction. In 1990 the population was nearly 283,000 persons. By the year 2000 the population is expected to reach 350,000. It is one of the few Michigan counties which continues to grow at a moderate rate.
What does the word "Washtenaw" mean?
There are many legends concerning the name Washtenaw. Some people think it was the name of an Indian who lived near the mouth of the river. Other people think it was the Potawatamie word for large stream or river. Emerson Greenman, a former curator of the museum of anthropology at the University of Michigan, wrote that Washtenaw derived from the Algonquin and meant 'Far Country' with Detroit as the Point of reference. Source: Michigan GenWeb .
How far back do County historical records go?
The historical records of Washtenaw County are located in the County Clerk/Register of Deeds’ Office, beginning with the following dates:
* Births* 1867
* Circuit Court Files 1828
* Deaths 1867
* Elections 1829
* Land Records 1824
* Marriages 1827
* Military Discharges* 1919
* Supervisors’ Proceedings 1835